Sirotkin: Maybe I’m not 100% ready, but I still have half a year to prepare 23 July, 2013 Sergey Sirotkin set to be youngest ever grand prix driver Teenager Sergey Sirotkin, who appears set to smash the record next year as the youngest ever Formula 1 racer, has hit back at claims that he is merely a “pay driver”. The 17-year-old’s father is a key figure among the Russian entities that have bailed out the ailing Sauber. Currently just ninth in the Formula Renault 3.5 series, behind highly rated drivers like the McLaren-backed Kevin Magnussen, and the likely next Toro Rosso driver Antonio Felix da Costa, Sirotkin’s fast-track to the grid has earned him the ‘pay driver’ label. “That is completely wrong,” Sirotkin told Basler Zeitung newspaper. “There is much more to it. We are talking about a big project, where another driver could have been selected.” “It’s not an investment in me, it’s about the big picture,” he insisted. “It’s not that I’m going to drive in F1 for fun, I have been selected because of my performance. I want people to respect what I do.” Segey Sirotkin too young for F1? “It’s about the promotion of F1 in Russia. And it’s also quite normal that the driver also brings a sponsor, just as Fernando Alonso brings Santander bank to Ferrari,” added Sirotkin. But some of the criticism of Sirotkin’s 2014 move to Sauber is also because of his age – currently, he is still just 17, too young to apply for a road car license in Russia. Asked if he is arguably too young for F1, he admitted: “Yes, that’s right. It may be that I’m not 100 per cent ready, but I still have half a year to prepare. That should be enough.” “Maybe our results in the World Series are insufficient, but you can still see that we have the speed. We just need a little bit more luck in the races.” Sergey Sirotkin at Monaco in the Formula Renault 3.5 race One of those questioning Sirotkin’s preparedness for F1 is Jenson Button, who in the past has admitted that, at 20, he himself made his debut too early. “I began racing at 8,” the Briton is quoted by Russia’s Championat, “but even at twenty, realistically speaking, it was too early [to enter F1]. I had to learn about the sport from the inside.” “On the one hand, it’s good, but on the other hand, you can’t hide. I think another year in the junior categories would have helped me come to F1 much more prepared,” added Button. “I was not ready at 17. Maybe he is, I don’t know, but he needs to be careful. F1 is a tough business.” Subbed by AJN. Related NewsJordan advises friend Sauber to sell F1 teamWealthy industrialist backing de Silvestro – Sauber testSauber appoints Simona De Silvestro to Affiliate Driver roleSauber never considered quitting F1 or selling teamSirotkin’s current boss says he is not ready for F1Marussia not upset that they lost out on Russian deal to SauberKaltenborn may face axe as Russian era arrives at SauberEcclestone troubles not good for F1 says KaltenbornRussian Sergey Sirotkin set to become youngest ever grand prix driver in 2014Plenty to talk about as Formula 1 takes a break Bmendon This kid is the ultimate “pay driver” in that he’s getting a seat over other more qualified drivers because his daddy bought the team! Sickening! 6-months Half a year isn’t even enough to prepare you for a school exam! Go back to the classroom and start driving when you actually have a driver’s licence. Your daddy can donate his money to more needy children in less fortunate countries. farizY Is he even qualified for a super license based on his performance in other series? I certainly hope he put his money where his mouth is.